The Clinical Research Unit (CRU) program of the National Institutes of Health, developed in the late 1950s, proved to be an important innovation in the use of public funds to support medical research. The establishment of these units led to a material improvement in the quality, convenience, and feasibility of many types of investigation involving human subjects. Their contribution in one area is illustrated by studies that led to the development of allopurinol as an agent to control the production of uric acid in gout and hyperuricemia in man. The route by which this drug was developed was serendipitous, and ultimate success depended on the fortuitous collaboration of individuals with biochemical, pharmacologic, and medical research interests working with substantial institutional support.
Historically, the importance of medical research in public health and national defense matters gained recognition slowly for nearly a century before it attracted major support from either private or
Rundles RW. The Development of Allopurinol. Arch Intern Med. 1985;145(8):1492-1503. doi:10.1001/archinte.1985.00360080174026